For the game against Sunderland, Pedro Losa made only two changes from the City match with Stoney and Sanderson coming on for Smith and Mitchell.
Stoney slotted to her usual centre back place moving Williamson to left-back and Sanderson came in the attacking midfield slot. Chamberlain, Sampson and Nobbs were injured, Yankey named on the team sheet but did not look like being able to play.
The team played in the 4-1-2-3 system: Byrne, Scott, Stoney, Rose, Williamson, Bailey, Losada, Sanderson, Carter, Sanchon, Ubogagu.
The team showed its attacking intent early with Williamson finding Sanchon in the left channel, she came round a defender and unleashed a missile in the top corner (5).
Sunderland were very good in defending against Arsenal and preventing the Gunners from building up from the back. They were also excellent in crowding the midfield and were quick in transition.
They just packed the central midfield area, won the ball back and then launched counter attacks with three or four players making forward runs and with the Arsenal players out of positions and only Bailey as a defensive midfielder, they found a lot of space behind Arsenal’s defence.
They were also very good in launching long balls with a simple flick to Mead behind the Arsenal centre backs that both looked painfully slow against the speedy Sunderland centre forward. The first time Mead put her shot wide but the second time she made no mistake for the equaliser (35).
Arsenal were developing a good attacking football using both wings and with the full backs Scott and Williamson overlapping at will. Losada and Sanderson were both going forwards on regular basis to support the three forwards, so that the Arsenal were attacking with up to seven players at a time. Half-time was reached with a 1-1 score which was a fair result.
The second half started in the same fashion with Arsenal trying to score the important second goal and being frustrated by a very efficient and resilient Sunderland side ready to pounce on any mistake by the Gunners. On the 65th minute, Pedro Losa made an inspired double substitution. Lianne Sanderson, who laboured a bit during the game, and Chioma Ubogagu who looks more and more like a valuable successor to Rachel Yankey on the left wing, made way for Kelly Smith and Carla Humphrey. Smith went to her usual number 10 position and Humphrey went to the left wing.
As soon as she was on Kelly Smith showed a master class of playmaking football. The stuff you cannot really teach to players.
She nearly single handledly turn the game.
Smith made a few rampaging run with the ball, dictated play and found solutions. She made a brilliant one-two with Humphrey and collected the return ball and just as she was about to pull the trigger Holmes slide tackled her from the side so strongly that she injured Smith.
The Sunderland defender missed the ball, the referee gave Arsenal a penalty and sent the defender off. It will be interesting to see if the red card was for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity or for serious foul play i.e. injuring Smith.
Smith was only on the pitch nine minutes but won Arsenal the game. She was replaced by Emma Mitchell who slotted at left back allowing Williamson to play alongside Bailey and dominate central midfield.
Sanchon scored the penalty (72) to make it 2-1 and from there it was game over as Sunderland were down to 10 players.
Sunderland could not threaten anymore and Arsenal added two more goals throught Carla Humphrey and Danielle Carter who deserved one for her impressive workrate on the right side.
Full time Arsenal 4 Sunderland 1 and the Gunners stay in second place behind Chelsea.
They will play each other on Thursday at Staines Town FC KO 7.30 pm
They won their league game 3-1 at Oxford on Sunday with a brace from Evie Clarke and a goal from Rianna Dean. They are third in the League trailing Chelsea by eight points.
Centre Of Excellence u17
They won the LSE u17 League on Saturday with their 6-1 win at Middlesex on Saturday. They will go for the double on Sunday 31st May for the FA Girls Youth Cup final against Aston Villa at Stratford Town FC KO at 12pm.